Dozens of swimmers at the Durban beachfront. Pictures: Denver Govender/Durban Tourism.

I maneuver through traffic to get to Virginia Airport where a helicopter waits for me. 

It is overcast in Durban this morning, and it seems the sun isn’t making an appearance anytime soon. Still, I could not pass up an opportunity to take a helicopter ride, even if the Durban weather was undecided.

The view from the helicopter.

I have been on a Durban helicopter ride twice before, but I have a feeling that today will be different. I arrive early, but spend the time before the flight admiring the small jet planes on the property. 

There are many planes coming in and out of the airport. Melanie Johnson, the owner of KZN Aviation, hands me a passenger and baggage ticket that states the guidelines to follow before, during and after the ride. Johnson then escorts me and three other passengers to our pilot Neil Southey.

The white and blue chopper looks marvelous among the backdrop of a gloomy grey sky. Southey, dressed in a navy overall, ushers us in and buckles our seat belts. While the helicopter warms up, we all click photographs to post on social media.

No matter how many times you hop onto a helicopter, you still feel like a child in a candy store. The excitement builds up and surges of energy takes over my body. Soon I am up in the sky, ready to experience grand Durban’s beauty once more.

The Umhlanga precinct. Pictures: Denver Govender/Durban Tourism.

The view from the top is a sight to behold as we spot iconic buildings like the Moses Mabhida Stadium,  Umhlanga lighthouse and the Durban waterfront.

Even though the sky is dull, Durban still shines in showing off its features. We spot the Indian ocean in all its glory, as hordes of people splash about in its water. There is also little dams towards the north that I did not know existed.

One of the highlights of the trip is seeing the living conditions of the rich and the poor. 

On one end, there are plush houses overlooking the ocean and surrounded by lush greenery, while the other side paints a rather sad picture of how the poor live. There are at least a thousand of shacks shattered around near the Clare Estate area. From the top, you see the litter in between the informal settlement.

The city centre in Durban has towering buildings that fit together like puzzles.

As we make our way back to the landing strip, a glimpse of the Durban city centre takes my breath away. 

Buildings, tall and short, fit together like a puzzle to form a bustling city centre. I believe everyone should enjoy a helicopter ride once in their life. It is one of those experiences that makes you appreciate the beauty of your city. You get to see its good and bad sides, but still love it.

Moses Mabhida Stadium looks amazing from top.

After the flight, Johnson tells me that helicopter rides are quite popular among local and international guests.

A 20 minute ride will cost R3 300 for 4 people. I think it is worth a splurge, especially when you want to see another side of Durban.

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